Big or Tiny House? The Heart is What Matters.

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Have you seen the Amazon Prime series called Tiny House World? James and I started watching recently and are basically hooked.

The episodes are short and follow a script: A couple, family, or single person is looking to downsize or diminish their footprint by going tiny. The episodes cover international settings from Ireland to the UK to Australia, and the featured individuals have three options from which to choose.

Most of the time, they don’t pick the one we would, which is both aggravating but also not the point. The point is that they discover they can do more with less.

Even “Tiny” Can Miss What Matters

The tiny house movement certainly has its appeal. The incentive for these people is to be more environmentally friendly, rekindle family time in a smaller space, or enable themselves to travel more. While those are all great reasons to try an alternate lifestyle, the tiny movement can easily become as self-absorbed as the materialism that is its opposite.

Although there is no tiny-house movement in Scripture, Jesus clearly teaches several principles about what we should do with our “stuff” in the parable of the rich fool. It’s so short, I’m including it here:

Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.  And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” ’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

Luke 12:16-21 NKJV

Regardless of where we live or what lifestyles we choose, are we “rich toward God”? Do we remember that everything we have comes from Him and act accordingly? That’s the bottom line.

Takeaways for Any-Size Situations

At some point, you’ve probably heard that even middle-class Americans are “rich” in the global arena. That news may not make you feel great if your credit card bill is higher than you’d like or your car is threatening to go on a permanent holiday, but essentially, this reality means we are all able to give something.

Whether our proverbial barns are threatening to overflow or we’re simply meeting the month’s budget, Jesus’ words are a one-size-fits-all challenge.

  1. What do we value most? Are we sharing those things or keeping them to ourselves? That one thing could even be our time. Do we use it to bless others?
  2. Are we content with what we have, or are we always looking for more?
  3. Are we giving of our gifts and resources, or are we self-absorbed with our own pursuits and pleasures?

We have to be careful not to point fingers at those “richer” than ourselves and expect them to carry the heavy load. For the record, I know some people who are very blessed financially and are also incredibly generous. The key to remember is that we’re not responsible for how others handle their “stuff.” We’re responsible for how we steward what God has given us.

Ultimately, God cares about our hearts, not the size of our houses.

There’s another story in the Bible that reveals that the condition of our heart, not the size of what we own or have to give, is what the Lord prizes. In the parable of the widow’s mite (Luke 21), Jesus tells the story of a woman who gave to the temple all she had, which was next to nothing. Her gift demonstrated great faith that God would provide for her needs. Again, the issue is not how much we have or how much we give, but rather the attitude with which we view our possessions.

At the end of the day, the size of our home doesn’t matter. How we live does. Let’s live abundantly, give cheerfully, and love others generously.

~ Kristen

Street Stewardship: Our Calling and God’s Commission

As some of you know, I moved at the end of last year. After the mad rush to pack, clean, shuffle, and then repeat, I’ve settled into a cozy little place. And a bit of complacency.

  • Do I really need to paint that room? Nope.
  • Can I live without a pull-down attic access? Yep.
  • Gutters? Maybe this summer.

There’s nothing wrong with catching a break from home improvement projects. There is, however, a problem with complacency in other aspects of stewardship.

Yes, stewardship. A home is a blessing, a burden, and an opportunity all wrapped in one. I’m not only responsible for my home itself but also for what surrounds it.

And I’m not talking about the fence that I may or may not get around to adding.

Beyond the survey flags and sidewalks are people. We call them our neighbors. But how many of us know them? How many of us care about them?

The Second Commandment

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22: 37-40

Jesus’ words to the lawyer in Matthew 22 aren’t just a metaphor for selfless living. They’re a mission for loving the people next door.

You mean the sweet ones, like the little girl and grandmother? Oh, the noisy ones, too? Yes, all of them.

My Bible study group is going through a five-week course on leading small groups in our homes, with the purpose of developing relationships with the people on our streets.

One of the resources we’re using is The Art of Neighboring by Dave Runyon and Jay Pathak. Through a simple exercise, the book opened my eyes to how many of us, myself included, have supported missionaries around the world but failed to take the great commission to our neighborhoods.

The exercise goes like this: Draw a grid, three squares high and three squares wide. Put your house address in the middle. Can you add the names of your eight closest neighbors to the surrounding boxes? Beyond that, do you know anything about them, beyond their names?

Not going to lie. I filled two squares, and six empty ones stared back at me. I’ve been in my house not even three months, but that’s still lame.

Who’s the man in the wheelchair with all the dogs? Why does he look so sad? Why does the lady down the street sit outside with an elderly gentleman? What are their names, their stories?

I don’t know, but I need to step outside my comfort zone and find out.

Conflicts

On this site, I focus on God’s calling—on my life and yours—and how we can think truthfully and live daringly to fulfill it. I talk a lot about books, simply because writing is one area I feel God’s hand on my life, and like many of you, I enjoy discovering quality books by other authors.

But what good is sharing books if we don’t put words into action?

We can’t fulfill our calling if we miss God’s commission. We can’t get so busy with our work that we forget the reason we’re doing it.

Closing Thought

Of all the homes I could have purchased (and tried to purchase), God led me to this one.

The reason has to be more than my own comfort and convenience. Who knows what hurting life I can reach? Who knows which lonely soul needs a friend? And who knows what blessing my neighbors will be to me if I just take the time to know them?

God, open my eyes to see—really see—the world just beyond my driveway and give me a heart to love my neighbors as myself.

Let’s start by praying for our neighbors. My Bible study is doing “prayer walks” in our neighborhoods where we simply pray for the people on our streets and opportunities for “open doors.” (It’s funny how often we use that expression but never in terms of our neighbors.)

Will you join me?

~ Kristen

 

Tweetables

Street Stewardship: Our Calling & God’s Commission – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

We can’t fulfill our calling if we miss God’s commission. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)